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ChatGPT in Video Game Development: Game Over or Game On?

There is unlimited for potential for more realistic interactions with NPCs but AI generated dialog is not without risks.

Stu Stalter

Mar 3, 2023

In 2016, real-life guitar heroes Red Hot Chili Peppers quipped, “You will find your flow when you go robot.” Seven years later, as ChatGPT begins to impact society in an unmapped direction, could that flow wash away the humanized sectors of game development?


One way that ChatGPT is being consider in game development is to create dynamic dialog for non-player characters (NPCs). Ostensibly, when a game is hooked up to ChatGPT, it allows a game player to converse more naturally with NPCs compared to the dialog trees that game developers traditionally write into the games. But will this spell demise for the human producers and creators currently doing the work? Irene Chan, a writer who works on an AI transcription service called Tactiq says ChatGPT is an efficiency asset rather than an employment adversary. “ChatGPT is only as good as the humans who use it,” Chan says.  “If we use it ethically and for the right reasons, it can help us accomplish a lot in less time.”


One area of potential is community-built story development within games. For example, unique chat results could spawn a gamer-molded lore history that reads across the game universe with NPCs discussing rumors and events conjured by previous chats with players.


“Its full potential in the gaming industry has yet to be fully realized, but the advanced natural language processing capabilities have the potential to reshape the way we approach animated storytelling in the future,” says Mazahar Pasha, an Open AI contributor and venture capitalist.   


It’s a rosy outlook, but not without problems. Unpredictable chat results altering written worlds and possibly creating plot points for quests necessitate new means of recording lines of dialogue. Text-to-speech AI grows at an alarming rate, blurring the line between reality and fiction. Speech sharpens by diminishing obviously robotic pauses and awkward inflections. Microsoft introduced its own AI language model VALL-E. The new tool emulates voices from merely a three-second audio clip.


Not even animation icon Steve Blum is safe. The Guinness World Record holder for most video game credits defended himself and his peers against text-to-speech tools stealing work.

Pasha notes that ChatGPT’s future capabilities speak to the experiences of not just those involved in making games, but diverse supporters historically underrepresented by traditional storytelling in video games.


“By enabling more dynamic and interactive storytelling, games could become more engaging and emotionally resonant for players,” Pasha says. “Additionally, ChatGPT's language capabilities could facilitate cross-cultural communication in gaming, allowing players from different regions and languages to connect and communicate more effectively within the game.”


Unintended consequences of open communication plaster their unwelcome head on the other side of the chromatic coin. Current AI models analyze gargantuan amounts of text. The models predict what a “correct” response should be based on language patterns pertaining to the initial information. Not having the flexibility, logic, or worldly awareness central to critical thinking reminds humans that “artificial” remains the operative word of AI.


For example, Microsoft debuted a new version of Bing that functions on a next-generation language model dubbed the Prometheus model—eponymous with the DC villain. Prometheus acted unscrupulously when challenged, arguing with several users over inaccurate information, including the current year being 2023, instead of 2022. 


A horrifying instance diving deeper into human history’s archaic past raises future concerns about NPCs lashing at players with language infinitely worse than Arthur Morgan’s antagonistic vocabulary. When PC world editor Mark Hachman showcased the new Bing anti-bias filters to his son, who is in fifth grade. Prometheus returned results containing various ethnic slurs unfit for children or adults.


Does tight roping between new problems and productivity make ChatGPT a friend or foe? Chan reiterates that AI is what automated advancements have always been: a tool for shapers of reality and virtual reality to use, not be used by.


“At the end of the day, AI should serve the main storytelling and gameplay [in video game development],” Chan said. “If it's used as a gimmick, it may boost interest, but the experience may not be fulfilling like eating an empty calorie."

Stu Stalter

Stuart Stalter is a lot better at writing articles about playing video games than writing in agony while playing Dark Souls. However, he did graduate from the College of Winterhold and holds a bachelor's degree in business administration in real life. You can find him on social media complaining about the Chicago Cubs @StuartStalter"

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